Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

253 – Taming of The Not So Few

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 253

July 23, 2018

“Taming Of The Not So Few…”

Begging pardon from the bard (a/k/a William Shakespeare), I see a current movement beginning to lure in America’s impressionable youth with promises of something for (literally) nothing.

We are fortunate to have someone in the White House who owes nothing to lobbyists, wealthy donors, Wall Street or the Business Round Table. Well, as Dana Carvey’s character (The Church Lady) would have said, “Well, isn’t THAT special?” Yes, indeed it is, and more so than most people know.

Talk about David and Goliath…. It’s what we see today, and you should be scared of its consequences.

A “Ditto Head,” a Rush Limbaugh listener since the 1980s, I am proudly claim the moniker of a continual and dedicated student of the Limbaugh Institute for Conservative Studies. Boiling down what seems to most as an ugly stew of “news,” Rush brings not only wisdom, but also brevity, to complex situations. Using his experience as a consummate student of our storied and exemplary history, Rush gives his audience a clear view of current events and changes in American society as a whole.

Looking back over recent presidential elections, I note a distinct change in media coverage. News should be facts. Anchors, reporters and columnists should inform the public of the facts and let the public come to a conclusion. Not so today. What once was factual news has morphed into commentary. Facts have been eclipsed by “feelings.” Try defending feelings in court.

What this does is disenfranchise every American of his or her ability to judge a situation for itself. Critical thinking is nearly extinct. Unlike the dinosaurs, it cannot be resurrected as entertainment.

A continual liberal push insinuates that Donald Trump and his staff colluded (not a crime incidentally, according to Alan Derschowitz) with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and propel the GOP to victory.

Where were critics when Obama and his cohorts meddled with Israeli elections? Widely known, it was tolerated and not exposed for what it was. Why? Well, Democrats rarely defend Israel. Instead, they take the side of the Palestinians (thugs as they are) and refuse to support our greatest ally in the Middle East. How many times have you heard a Democrat come to the defense of Netanyahu?

It is not new that countries attempt to subvert the political process of an adversary in order to gain ground. This has gone on since Biblical times. To spout all the current garbage as if this is the first time in history that the United States has tried to undermine a despotic or abusive government in order to spread freedom is ludicrous. It is standard operating procedure for intelligence agencies around the world.

Do we do it as a nation? You bet we do, and it is routine. Business as usual, as it were. Have the Russians adopted this as a new tactic? That’s laughable. Russia interjects itself here in America, not only in elections, but also in other ways that continue to go unnoticed by the general public.

If you doubt that this is the first time that Russia has tried to spread its disruptive influence the United States, just consider these examples. The first focuses on fiction, spawned by real life.

Richard Carlson starred in a popular TV series that aired from 1953 to 1956. I was only 9 when it began, but I remember it well. “I Led Three Lives” recounted real life. Citizen, Communist, Counterspy is its base. The book is Herbert Philbrick’s classic memoir of his life in espionage.

Once a Boston-area advertising executive, Philbrick accepted the FBI’s overture to infiltrate the Communist Party in the United States. What’s more, Carlson portrayed the spy with his actual name, Herbert Philbrick. Grounded in truth, that series — sixty years ago — exposed what we have witnessed in the United States over the last few decades.

Sometimes, truth is really stranger than fiction.

Viewers were privy to the challenges Philbrick faced maintaining those same three distinct identities — counterspy, citizen and Communist. Awash with intrigue, it kept its audience on the edge of their seats for three full years. It is interesting that the series premiered only a few years after Senator Joseph McCarthy initiated his famous hearings in Washington, D.C. How did they come about?

At a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950, McCarthy proclaimed that he was aware of 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party who worked for the United States Department of State. This speech set off an era of paranoia and accusation and propelled McCarthy into the national spotlight. (ushistory.org) But, those hearings are another story….

Communism is not new. It is an old, and crippling ideology dating to the 1890s in which only the elite exert power and hold resources while the populace at large is left with a life robbed of freedom, ambition, or dreams of personal success.

In the words of Karl Marx, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” So, if you work, you do not reap the rewards of your labor. Instead, your effort and largess go to someone who “needs” it more than you do. So much for the work ethic….

Socialism is one step down, but on the fast track to Communism. To this date 42 candidates for office at the local, state and federal level are endorsed by the American Socialist Party. These elected “wanna bes” stand on the shoulders of others among us. You see, purveyors of Communism remain alive and well and dwell among us — happily tenured among the faculties of institutions of higher learning from coast to coast. Now their “blatherings” have earned a platform that endangers us all.

Oh, they are the classic “snake oil salesmen (or women, if you are into the gender specific language) of the day. They promise free tuition to public universities, free Medicare for all, etc. They promise….

Sounds good to someone educated to believe that America stands at fault for other countries’ poor living conditions. America at fault? Oh, yes. Untold numbers of our young people have little or no respect for America. Never mind that millions of our men and women sacrificed their lives to free people around the world. Those bits of history are viewed inconvenient to them.

Never mind that America stands as the bastion of freedom for the world. Never mind that in the midst of any major natural disaster, Americans are first to respond. Never mind America’s history of hard work and innovation. Never mind the truth….

And if you think that the influence stops with academia, you need to think again. From their inception in the 1920s, unique men produced Hollywood movies. Studio moguls, to a man, were either immigrants or children of immigrants. These men knew the value of freedom and used their films to further the message of Americans as heroes… of faith as the anchor to life… the rewards of hard work… the value of compassion and sharing… of America as the best place on earth….

Once these men were dead and gone, it didn’t take long until studio ownership fell to people with an agenda. Suddenly, gratuitous violence replaced implied violence. Blood and gore became the order of the day. As a result, children were desensitized to violence in its harshest form. Cheating, glorified, disappeared as “wrong,” and became just another way to get ahead.

Remember when the James Bond films had maniacal foreigners as adversaries? Remember when power-seeking bad guys tried to take over the world? Remember how England’s “007” foiled their plans? Remember those movies? Well, consider the recent Bond plots….

Now, the villain genre is capitalism. Business is evil. Any idea how that has warped the wordsmith’s intent? Ian’s Fleming’s James Bond character actually roots in a proficient spy working for Winston Churchill. That man was F.F.E. ‘Tommy’ Yeo-Thomas GC, codenamed “The White Rabbit.” Think that Churchill could have been lured or persuaded by Communism? Hardly.

Yet, subtleties of the films extend the Communist reach to one more area: entertainment. They inch their way into the corporate psyche. Now, we have education and entertainment linked in what I consider a perverted effort to undermine America as my generation knows it. And what defines my America? As Clark Kent would say, “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

Our great-grandparents’ generation fought the Civil War. Our grandparent’s generation fought World War I — The War to end all wars! Our parents’ peers fought World War II and Korea. My generation fought Viet Nam. Current military stationed worldwide stand ready to defend each of us — to a person — including all those hell-bent on spreading Socialism in America today.

Who are the wealthy entertainers who push to take away our guns? How about taking guns from their bodyguards? And those who try to push electric cars with limited range? Owners of private jets that consume huge amounts of fuel.

Carbon footprint? You bet. But that is not the only dirt left in their wake. An old adage claims “the wages of sin are death.” Well, the wages of socialism and communism are enslavement and despair.

Double standard? Yeah, but what else can we expect? Nothing is more important to the would-be socialists than political success. These people are persistent, but thankfully they are few. It is up to each of us to counter their false messages and prevent them from gaining a firm foothold among the voting public.

As we approach the 2018 mid-term elections, be mindful of why America remains the envy of the world. We are free. We value truth. We defend our friends and prove to be very dangerous to our enemies.

This president stands up for America. This president leads through strength. Only this president’s resolve and our military stand between us and peril. This must prevail. Donald Trump faces the few. They are determined to destroy him. Who are his defenders? We are!

Can the few be tamed? Ah, yes. But only with effort. Our goal is “The Taming of the Few.” Are you up to it? Think about it.

252 “A sad truth…”

Friday, July 6th, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

#252

July 6, 2018

It is with angst that I space my columns out over time. Often, my spark dims with the current news. I feel as if I am living in “The Twilight Zone,” but Rod Serling is nowhere to be found.

I revel in national holidays. Celebrating America is first on my list, so when I view someone climbing the pedestal of The Statue of Liberty — sparking a response by National Park Service personnel (at their own peril), I am a loss for words. What this woman did was rob countless men, women and children from visiting one of our most iconic sites on the 4th of July. Good timing with her mindset, absurd from those of us who love our country.

My faith sustains me, and not in a small way, as I reflect on the happenings that continue to grow in the United States. The very freedoms that set us apart from the rest of the world are used in ways that defy reason.

It is not simply a case of glass half full or half empty, either. Freedom of speech is sacrosanct for us. Our military defends the rights of the most misled and uninformed to say what they will. Aside from screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater, these folks and their warped ideals try the collective patience of our people.

Perhaps just as worrisome as watching the officers pluck the aforementioned woman from a fragile (yes, the copper is thin and subject to damage) statue was a series of interviews with young people asked if they were proud to be an American.

Had that question been asked when I was a young person (granted, that was a half century ago), a negative reply would have been unthinkable. Ah, yes, the systematic mantra of leftist teachers and textbooks has done its job. We now have untold numbers of our young people who have no appreciation for American exceptionalism or of the history of our people.

I made it a point to give my students a little advice as I taught both in high school and college. I emphasized that history is not a litany of names, dates and places. History stands as a series of warning signs for us.

If we do not heed history, we risk repeating it. No nation is faultless. Human, we remain, one and all. When I was a young person, there were subtle differences between the two major political parties. However, few people questioned love of country. The Democratic Party did stand more for the working population than the Republican Party. Today, tables have turned. We now see a Democratic Party that triumphs entitlement options, illegal immigration (yes, illegal), and gender identification.

Please. You are born with certain parts. They define gender. Choice may be legitimate in the drive-through lane, but not in the delivery room. The proverbial pendulum has swung so far askew that it defies explanation.

Socialism sounds wonderful. Everybody is equal. It harkens back to Orwell’s thesis that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

That we have a growing segment of our young people considering Socialism a positive lifestyle is not only scary, it is extremely dangerous. If elites can convince them that government control bests individual freedom of choice in the workplace, we are in for a very rough ride. America was built on the blood, sweat and tears of forebears who didn’t expect a free ride. They made their own way and what a way they bestowed on us!

Control, for those who push socialism, is far easier if their audience is blind to the horrible effects socialism can have. For a contemporary example, look no further than Venezuela! What a sad state of affairs that is!

Consider the current happenings in San Francisco, a beautiful city founded as a major port of working people, a city that endeared itself to Americans with its stunning vistas and cable cars.

Today, the “city by the bay” loses major conventions because of the homeless, opioid community and the violence that plagues its streets. Some workers even pay to ride to work less than a block of two from their homes. It is really that bad.

Throw in the “sanctuary city” status coupled with tolerance for criminals to roam the streets and you have a toxic mix. And what of leadership? The holier than thou politicians who spout how they “care” about the poor — in fact — do little to remedy the situation. Where do they live? How do they travel? Security? You bet. Yet, they clamor to disarm the general population. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

The would-be car jacker who encountered an armed mom as he tried to flee a gas station with her two small children in her car learned the hard way. Licensed to carry, she reached into the console and shot him in the face. He stopped yards away. Hers is the face of self-defense. She is a hero.

Violence seems to the order of the day when the minority party moves ever closer to November, and not just the venomous words they hurl with abandon. A California Congresswoman repeatedly calls for attacks against anyone who works closely with or lends support to our president. Where on earth is putting country before self? Where is the common root of America — patriotism? It is not dead, but it is in peril.

To my chagrin, the beauty of American federal government that I explained to my students has morphed into a puzzle that seems to have no solution. It’s a game of “us against them.” Sad? Yes, but more than sad, it’s very dangerous.

Certain ingredients define a country. Four are critical: One: Secure, defined borders — without borders, there IS no country. Two: Law — without rule of law, there is no order or safety for the people. Three: Language, without a common tongue, the country lacks the glue that holds it together. (Remember, worldwide, all airline pilots speak English.) Four: Military strength — without a strong military, the country is at high risk.

We now witness the fraying of the first three with the full support of the Democratic Party. This should scare the socks off each one of us. If, as some critics claim, Democrats that oppose enforcing current laws governing immigration harbor an underlying motive — an influx in high numbers of new voters dependent upon the government programs of which they are so fond, then they are beneath contempt. If a strong country is a healthy country, how is America today?

When you add in the specter of leadership that scorns those of us who believe in God and view faith as a weakness, you compound the problem with a fatal flaw that could doom the American dream.

Misled and uninformed youth will follow the lead of a “pied piper.” The old slogan of hippies “Never true anyone over forty” needs updating. Those who protested and cursed their parents and grandparents now serve in positions of leadership. Scary? You bet it is. So long as our schools and universities continue to allow teachers to rail against America and turn out graduates with no respect for country, the risk to each of us grows exponentially.

If you seek a real challenge, try to convince a young person who has become an “America hater” that he or she is wrong. Good luck. In an ironic twist, it reminds me of how shocked I was to see small Chinese children taught to kill Americans or Palestinian children taught that all Israelis are pigs to slaughter.
Seeds planted with purpose can bring forth a bitter harvest.

It is not a problem easily solved or in short order. The first step will be the hardest, reforming education to be just that — not indoctrination. Teaching should root in facts, not feelings. Teaching should extol patriotism, not alienation. And God should not be off limits in any school setting.

Armed with visceral hatred for any modicum of control, these progeny of the ’60s generation place law enforcement in their crosshairs and systematically instill attitudes to dispirit and enrage their followers — often with deadly consequences. When respect for authority dies, so does a society.

Is it hopeless? No. I remain confident that if enough Americans stand for what is right and move against the ranting and raving of the left, we can turn this around.

Watch and listen to the messages before the coming mid-term elections. The left will concentrate on hate and fear, labeling the GOP as “phobes” of every kind. Winning at any cost is at the heart of their campaigning and the possibility that work will win out over welfare and that the economy will thrive fuels their insatiable quest for power.

I applaud the efforts of the Trump administration to revive American pride and praise the exceptionalism admired worldwide. You don’t see people surging to immigrate (legally or illegally) to socialism countries. There is a good reason for it. Socialism does not work.

Today, politicians of the ilk of Bernie Sanders, praise Socialism as the “end all, be all” of life. It’s far from it. Socialism stifles entrepreneurship, dampens ambition, and collapses the stable order of society.

Free education, guaranteed housing, everybody has a job…. It may sound good, but there is not one instance of it having worked — anywhere, ever!
Border security also needs to stop the flow of drugs into this country. We are losing young people to drugs at an alarming rate — those among us who should have the burning desire to succeed.

There is no better way to weaken this country than to cripple a large segment of its youth. So far, the cartels are doing a bang up job. Evidently, they have the cover of very powerful forces. Someone, somewhere, is making what (to omit a perfect term) a ____ load of money off the drug trade. The question is just who are they?

So, where are we? We are at a crossroads. I refuse to give up on America. We all need to pray that things turn around and America regains her treasured, strong relationship with her people — true to its motto, E Pluribus Unum. One of many, one….

In truth, I cannot imagine what our Founding Fathers would think of today’s state of affairs. They were men in their 30s. Together, after much discussion and prayer (Yes, prayer!), they crafted documents that would forge a government that positioned America as the beacon for the world — a government truly of, by and for the people. I believe that America is that “shining city on a hill” that President Reagan described.

The Founders would never understand the mindset of many young people today. My question is just what kind of young people are we turning out today? Critical to our survival is the answer. Think about it.

251 – Closed Minds or Open Mines

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

April 27, 2018

# 251

“Closed Minds, Open Mines”

Accustomed to writing a column once a week for decades, I find myself writing when a topic strikes me as particularly germane. Not one to shy away from politics given my background as a history and government teacher, determination tops reticence when the situation demands it.

I have friends from West Virginia. I remember when coalmines splashed across the front pages of widely read newspapers (nearly extinct) to cover a mine disaster. Lives cut short deep underground and the anguished waiting as families gathered to learn if their loved ones were dead or alive. Banner headlines and broadcast news reports kept the public up to speed on the turn of events.

Mining is a hazardous business. I can appreciate that because my husband is a farmer and farming ranks high among dangerous occupations. Although mining losses come in high numbers when a disaster strikes, farm deaths continue to mount one by one over time. More often than not, one can chalk many of the deaths up to inattention. The old saying that a “careless farmer is a dead farmer” rings true yet today. Safety, you see, is job one.

There is a gentle charisma among miners. Loretta Lynn brought the close family life to America in her poignant ballad, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” With technology front and center on the job front, younger Americans have lost the respect for hard work. Hard work. Dirty work. Needed work. Families are close. Families cling to faith. Never take electricity for granted. Miners began the wattage you use. They move the gears of this country. Far too often, we fail to remember that.

The industry cites a great supply and the federal government affirms it. The U.S. Energy Information Association gives the following facts. “Based on U.S. coal production in 2016 of about 0.73 billion short tons, the recoverable coal reserves would last about 348 years, and recoverable reserves at producing mines would last about 23 years. The actual number of years that those reserves will last depends on changes in production and reserves estimates.” The map that follows illustrates just where those reserves are.

Yet, it was not so long ago that one of the most contentious political discussions in the 2016 presidential campaign hinged on coal. One candidate pledged to “put coal companies out of business.” And, as if that were not enough, the public was encouraged to believe that coal was the worst possible source for power. Clamoring for renewable sources is fine, but there are drawbacks. Remember, please, that wind is highly subsidized. Without subsidies, wind would not be affordable.

We evolve. With every generation we see great strides in energy. Just consider energy early in the 20th century and compare that to what we use today. Even with all the computer savvy jobs, the nation requires affordable transportation and electricity.

Enter a president who understands business and resources. Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to remember the coal miners. He recognized the importance of coal production.

Once hobbled by government regulations and restrictions, the clean coal industry (yes, clean!) is once again working away below ground to claim the fuel to generate the electricity that fuels our economy. The widely dispersed comments masked a hidden political goal — government-run lives. A public without choice is crippled.

Our government holds the reins to the economy, and when it unleashes the ingenuity and determination of the American worker, literally nothing is impossible. In the 1970s some began to issue warnings about “global cooling.” Few bought the line, so their tactic changed. “Global warming” became the mantra.

Odd situation. You see, those who push the dangers of fossil fuel fly around on jets but want us to drive electric cars. Nice logic, huh? They pocket huge sums of money and solicit donations from the public convinced that we are fueling our own demise. With hundreds of years in supply and better and better mining techniques, their message should fall on deaf ears. But it doesn’t. Reminds me a bit of the snake oil salesman in the 1800s American West.

It will be interesting to see what happens in West Virginia this year. Their democratic senator is up for election. Yet his party is the one that threatened mine closures. Coal remains a mainstay for his state.

Will this be the triumph of closed minds over open mines? It is hard to predict the effect that all the anti-coal press could have on national voting, so the West Virginia vote might not give us an accurate picture. What we need is solid education based on fact not emotion, based on accurate assessment and not on assumption.

Senator Joe Manchin voted with President Trump to block regulations that would have killed coalmining jobs. So, too, did Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, plus West Virginia’s other senator, Shelley Moore Capito. In November, Manchin faces a competitor. Just who it is will remain up in the air until voters go to the polls on May 8th. I doubt if they will reflect mainstream media and its minions. It is easy to see that both coasts constitute the bulwark of rampant liberalism. These liberals consider those of us in “fly over country” rubes and hillbillies. Well, we common folk make this country run. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the West Virginia elections this year.

Americans who yearn to see a government run like a business — not operating in the red — shudder to think that poor civics education given our youth might sway power back to the poor management seen in the last administration. Sacrifice is never popular. The men and women who won World War II are disappearing daily. With each succeeding generation, we seem to have lost the importance of loyalty to country and faith in God. If it continues at a rapid pace, it could be our undoing.

It took decades for us to pile up the national debt. It will take decades to get back to solvency. Sadly, today’s young people seem to think everything happens quickly. The one worry many of us have is that too many among us are impatient. They have been taught that government is the answer to everything. It is not. Oh, my, it is not….

Consider the wisdom of President Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” That still holds true today. Humor is the soul of wit. Reagan exuded both. I close with another Reagan quote.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

As I see it, there is no better way for this nation to lose its freedom than to keep the public uneducated and dependent. We are well on our way to both. Think about it.

250 – Culture Change

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 250

February 15, 2018

“Cultural Change: Deadly”

It’s a given. I am a senior citizen. As such, on many occasions I have seen more of life than I needed to see.

Yesterday is a prime example. I remember Columbine. All of us do. I remember the Hoosier native, a teacher, who gave his life to protect his students. I remember it all.

Since that time, we have witnessed twenty-four more school shootings. How has this happened? It is a question many of us ask.

Well, turn back the clock — culturally. I am a child of the 1940s. Our parents’ generation fought and won World War II. Our grandparents endured World War I. The world they bequeathed to us gave my generation a stable start in life. Their sacrifice and hard work rubbed off on us. They knew the value of human life. They had seen too much of it destroyed. We learned respect for our elders, a strong work ethic, and the value of a good education, whether in the trades or via a college or university.

Our main entertainment was radio, and even today Radio Spirits, and similar companies, broadcast the old shows much to my delight. Movies featured violence, but it was quick and far less vivid than today. True, Edward G. Robinson was a gangster and his movies had guns involved; but there was a difference. The good won out over the bad. Bad was seen as bad.

And then there were the westerns, or “oaters.” Directors like legendary John Ford captivated America with his western movies. We watched Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Tom Mix, Allen “Rocky” Lane, Andy Devine, and Chill Wills. One handsome actor reminded me of our neighbor across the street, local surgeon Norm Richard. That actor? Swashbuckling Glenn Ford.

Good guys wore white hats. They valued liberty and stood for truth. They used their guns to defend the weak and enforce the law. The bad guys, attired in dark colors, earned their names: bad guys.

My memories of those days flash vividly. We watched the “shoot ‘em up” films, but none of us took them too seriously. But, then again, we were not bombarded with violence from every corner. Our games were Monopoly, card games, and checkers. A few of our brighter peers played chess.

Guns were a fact of life for rural kids. Townspeople kept guns at home. In fact, it was not unusual to see guns in the back windows of pickup trucks in high school parking lots. In the 1930s high schools had shooting clubs around the state. Students brought their rifles to school and kept them in their lockers until they went to the shooting range with an instructor.

Yes, our high school experience was far different from today, but a gentler one in many ways. The occasional fight might break out among a few crude teenagers, but those were very rare. Discipline was not questioned. It was reality.

When Principal Jim Sharp walked down the hall of our high school, he parted the students like Moses did the waters. A swish and a clunk in the hallway meant that a cantankerous student was held, feet off the floor, up against a locker. He had rules. He enforced them. None of us got angry and went home for a gun either. And plenty of our houses had guns. I know mine did.

I graduated in 1961 before the hippie era. Our generation saw no drugs. We only read about “opium dens,” and that was in world history. We didn’t see illegal drugs or anyone that might have frequented them. We took drugs (medicines) only when we were sick. To do otherwise was unknown.

Once the specter of drugs, love children, and open sexuality hit the streets, the game was all but over. The transformation of entertainment nailed the coffin of American teenage innocence shut with a bang — no gun pun intended. When our youth became obsessed with games lionizing death and crime, seeds were sown more widely than a thunderstorm dumping Canadian thistle on an Indiana cornfield — easily sown, a constant battle to eradicate.

The evolution of movies from wholesome to insulting only added to the problem. Thugs wreaking havoc and carnage on city streets replaced strong male role models in actors like Robert Young, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, and Joseph Cotton. The number of youngsters living in single-family homes began to skyrocket. None of us is better for that.

In the wake of Broward County Florida’s terrible events of Valentine’s Day, some will scream “gun control!” Well, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. A gun left alone in a room is harmless. In the hands of an evil person, a gun is a weapon of unimaginable damage. And so what do we do? Well, why not adopt the Israeli system?

Israel’s schools remain secure. Building security is high, and unidentified teachers carry concealed weapons. Despite the Palestinian rocket attacks on innocents that have gone on for decades, no school is Israel recorded a live shooting incident. True, Israel is a tiny country, and their culture is homogeneous; but their basic plan is solid.

Try to get into a courthouse or federal building in the United States. If you carry legally, your weapon will remain at the entrance under guard. You may be frisked or go through a metal detector. If we keep political and administrative offices safe, shouldn’t we do the same for our schools?

Just how much are our kids’ lives worth anyway? Are they worth a secure building with only limited entry? Are they worth anonymous conceal carry teachers? It’s only common sense, but — then again — that is nearly nonexistent today. Would that it were different….

I do not speak without experience. A 73-year-old grandmother with a lifetime permit to carry, I received my gun training at the FOP firing range by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department when I worked for then Prosecuting Attorney Jim Lisher in the early 1980s. Once in a great while mainstream news will air a story of a person carrying a gun who thwarts a robbery or worse or a mother who defends her home, but — sadly — the news usually concentrates on gun criminals, not citizens defending themselves.

The five million plus members of the NRA stand for personal protection guaranteed by the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment is sacrosanct to them, and to me. It should be to you, too.

The Florida school shooting will bring out slings and arrows from both sides of the gun control issue. However, we do need to remember that the once widespread system of mental health hospitals so common in the United States was dismantled decades ago. Moreover, child rearing became a sporting event for litigious parents who threatened lawsuit if a child was reprimanded.

Once a strong social triangle existed, and it forged an important relationship key to a child’s success. As you know the triangle is the strongest form in geometry. The best example is a pyramid. Think Egypt….

That once strong triangle consisted of the school and the parents for the child. It has morphed, much to society’s loss, to the parent and the child against the school. With the school leg gone, the triangle collapsed — and with it the once strong bond that held the whole relationship together.

However, we cannot ignore the violence to which our children have been exposed. I shudder to calculate the number of murders and violent scenes today’s elementary school children have seen. Now extrapolate those numbers they have seen by the time they reach high school. Constant exposure to violence desensitizes. Empathy and sympathy evaporate. Jaded attitudes reign. Reality falls by the wayside. Everything begins again after the lights go up in the theatre or the commercial ends the episode on TV.

And what of the responsibility legitimately shouldered by video game manufacturers and Hollywood? Oh, celebrities are right up there on their pedestals when it comes to telling us how to live; yet, their medium erodes the very foundation upon which this nation was founded.

Oh, dear. God is the first in line here.

Talk show hosts and anchors mock faith in God as a weakness or as if it is a dread disease. Far from it, faith anchors your life when all else around you collapses. Trace the school violence back to the time when we took God out of the schools.

Exposure breeds mimicry. Undoubtedly, superhero movies will remain popular, but they are pure fantasy. In contrast, gang movies and gratuitous violence offer absolutely no redeeming social value.

Without moral guidance and authority, anarchy looms. When you add the problem of edited textbooks and leftist instructors who paint America as the pariah of the world, the recipe is nothing short of disaster. We teeter on the edge of just such a disaster today.

Prayerfully remember the families of students and staff murdered on February 14th. Each of the murdered went to school yesterday morning expecting to go home. They did not. Each of you has a local school board. Make your concerns known. Insist on security. Every school, large or small, is at risk. Big cities are not alone in their vulnerability. Sad, but true….

Think about Israel. Israelis are determined to keep their freedom and they are prepared to defend it. They safeguard their children and tell them the truth about the world around them. We sugarcoat it here. While it does take away a part of innocence that should be inherent in growing up, informing children about dangers around them is critical.

Every technology has within it an element of danger. The Internet we view as a wonderful tool, the criminal sees as a fast method of communicating evil. For all its good points, it harbors evil within.

Leadership does not end in the home. It extends to the federal level, or one would hope…. I fear that we have become a nation without moral clarity and respect for law. Cities and states that refuse to obey the law are criminal entities and should be treated as such. This bent view of authority must be nipped in the bud, to quote Deputy Barney Fife. Press your elected officials to support federal law. Don’t just sit in the kitchen and complain about it to one another. Voters have impact. Make yours known.

How much are 17 lives worth? Locked doors? Full time security guards? Contrast these costs with school athletic budgets. Today, speaking to a group of Sheriffs from around the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this statement: “The right to remain safe is the number one right of every American and the responsibility of every one of you.” (Audience was made up of law enforcement officials.) He is right.

A lack of safety costs precious lives, lives to be forever unfulfilled, we must face a sobering fact. School safety is the seminal issue of our time. As a parent and grandparent, I want to see something done to assure that children are safe. Do you? Think about it.

Well, not today. Don’t just think about it. Find a way to do something about it. All politics is local. Every locality has a school. Starting small is still a start.

249 – “Kicking the CAN” – January 24, 2018

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

#249

“Kicking the CAN”

January 24, 2018

If you have any background in American lingo, then you recognize the phrase
“kicking the can.” While this is most often used to describe putting off an essential element of planning or action, it also has a more dangerous slant — one that bodes ill for our future.

To cite contemporary examples you have only to consider one of a number of commercials currently aired on national television. Pay close attention to the dialogue. The ad features two teenage boys at the side of a road at night. They have a flat tire. After a discussion of what is covered and which company has roadside assistance 24/7 (It’s an insurance company ad.), one replies to is father, “Of course I know what a lug wrench is…” Obviously, he has no idea and neither does his friend. Boys who don’t know a lug wrench? Ouch! That never would have happened when I was a teenager.

Those of us who grew up at a time when our fathers knew a head was not only a body part attached by one’s neck but also a critical component in the internal combustion engine. People my age find the whole scene laughable. However, funny as it is, the ad only showcases the disappointing fact that uncounted numbers of today’s teens and young adults have no idea how to fix anything.

Even the most basic chores are alien to them. I follow young girls in the checkout lines of grocery stores and see nothing but boxes of prepared food. Oh, there might be a jug of milk and juice, but traditional ingredients for getting a family meal are visibly absent.

Computer jobs beckon many of our young students, yet I wonder how many of them can conceive the mental ability it took to design the first one. I was not quite seven years in 1951 when the first huge computer was dedicated. Univac took up an entire room — a far cry from the tiny devices we carry in our purses and pockets today.

Sixty years seems to have flown by in the wink of an eye, reflective of comments I heard from my grandparents at about my age. Yet, the tactile and problem-solving skills of sixty years ago are most concentrated in those of us who were young at that time. With each succeeding generation, except for youngsters reared by do-it-yourselfers or those who grew up on a working farm, those skills rapidly disappeared.

How many of our grandchildren are prepared to take care of themselves in case of a major disaster? A hundred and fifty years ago it was not an uncommon site to see a twelve-year-old boy take over his family after one or both parents died. The base line here is that the parents taught their children to be self-sufficient.

While there are parents who still expose their children to basic tasks and how to do them, they are becoming more and more rare. I do not mean to shortchange in any way those youngsters who can work circles around me in terms of fixing things, but it worries me when I see how little many of them are able to do without calling someone else.

I task schools to reinstitute the “trades” classes. Dropping shop and home economics in favor or weight rooms and computer labs may appeal to the modern curricula directors, but it is very shortsighted.

We cannot continue to teach technology and ignore basics. People need to know how to fix things. People need to know how things work. That is the beauty of physics and science. A teacher can actually show students how things operate. Simple gears can be fascinating to young children, especially is they are allowed to put together the mechanism themselves.

For more than a decade my husband and I sat at the symphony with a retired Allison engineer and his wife. Both Gene and Mildred Dent volunteered at the Children’s Museum. Gene designed and built the simple devices that showed children the wonder of machinery. Every child should have that kind of an opportunity. Who knows the budding talent that could bloom as a result?

Today we have the wherewithal to transform education into something more than reading, writing (don’t get me started on eliminating cursive!), and arithmetic. Incorporating manufacturing techniques into a curriculum surely could not hurt.

Introduce children to the magic of electricity, the power of water and hydraulics, the importance of repairing something instead of purchasing new. In the end, the entire society will benefit. It’s not a lost cause — yet!

Working with one’s hands positions itself to be an invaluable talent considering the number of us able to do little or nothing. Entertainment and empty video games have taken the place of learning at the feet of a parent or grandparent.

We need more learning within the family and a focus on careers that are timeless — those of the building trades and home repair. Robots may be the future of factory floors, but they do not install floor joists, studs, and trusses. Men and women do that, and with considerable talent.

A lover of all things Apple (computer, phone, etc.), the simple lower case “i” preceding a product line is a dead giveaway to the manufacturer — iMac, iPod, iPhone…. That is a good thing, however, I suggest another twist on that nomenclature.

Kicking the “CAN” is what we have done for decades. Since its founding, this nation has been known as a people with a tenacious approach to learning, be it with hands or heads. I dream that the time will reappear — a time when the ages-old reply to a query, “Who can do this?” is a chorus of young voices shouting “iCAN.”

Would that it were so…. Think about it.

247 – “Ill Eagle”

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 248

January 20, 2018

“Ill Eagle”

After watching and listening to the blathering coming out our nation’s capital, I ponder just what this country is becoming. Once the bastion of individual accomplishment and the one place on earth where a person could start with nothing and end up with unimaginable wealth, we have morphed into a near nanny state where illegals are valued more than our veteran homeless. Yes, look among our cities and you will find military veterans living in squalid conditions while those who come across our borders without permission — illegally — qualify for all manner of federal and state aid. The monetary impact of “English as a second language” is immense, and insulting.

Someone needs to explain to me why one word is no cavalierly ignored. The word is illegal. In other words, it is a practice that is against the law. The persons of this ilk make statements that fly in the face of those beliefs upon which this nation is founded. They want everything we have to offer and have absolutely no right to do so.

When we get to the place where able-bodied people do not work and rely on the largess of those who do, we are in real trouble. Well, folks, we are there. Welfare to work is the path to self-reliance. There is dignity in work. There is no dignity in waiting around for a check in the mail.

The trouble is that we are on a third generation of children who may never have seen a father in the home. Many fathers work, but there are untold numbers of children who may never have seen their father go to work. How sad for the children, for the family, and for the nation as a whole.

Look back in our history to the time when thousands upon thousands of immigrants made their way to the United States via Ellis Island. Were they profiled? You bet they were. Health problems were sorted out and those who failed the medical exams were sent packing back to their countries of origin. Those who did make it through all the inspections and exams were determined to find work.

In the case of my grandfather’s family who came through New York City in 1895, my French forebears were tasked with learning English and finding work. Mastering the language was paramount, even though native tongues continued to be spoken among family members. It was not unusual to find ethnic areas in our large cities. The languages spoken at home were not English, but English was the path to success. Immigrants knew that.

Germans and Italians were just two among the many nationalities that thrived in our inner cities. Today, their restaurants, grocery stores and churches remain a bastion of their heritage. The term “Little Italy” was understood immediately. Good food, entertainment and hospitality ruled.

Lamentably, today’s American inner cities are better known for crime and gang violence than for ethnic flavor. That is not a good thing. A lot of this falls on the widespread problem that occurs when gangs take the place of the family unit. A fractured family is at high risk to fail its children. And when government steps in to provide what a family needs, the picture worsens.

We need to teach the value money and the dignity of work beginning in kindergarten. Children should feel the exhilaration of success in mock business ventures. They should internalize the old saying that “there is no free lunch.” They should understand both economics and saving by the time they are in middle school. If this were true, our national economic health would have a well-deserved shot in the arm.

Dreaming of starting one’s own business or achieving success in a chosen career should top a student’s list. We do every American child a disservice when we fail to train him or her to succeed in life.

What ever happened to math for living? I have met young people in their early twenties who do not understand interest, the danger of credit card debt, and the basics of borrowing money. A mortgage or car payment is not exactly clear in their minds either. This isn’t just sad. This is perilous.

It’s fine to enjoy entertainment and leisure time, but focus should be on achievement and earning a good living. We have shoved the trades to the side in favor of computers, but I haven’t seen an electrician or a plumber at the street corner with a sign “work for food.” There is dignity in every job. Pride is not something to ignore. It is something to encourage.

Our American eagle is sick. It sees English ignored as the nation’s language. Try going to a foreign country to live and work without mastering the native tongue. I am sick of going into major retail stores and seeing signs in two or more languages. For Pete’s sake, if people want to come to America, let them come legally, learn the language, and embrace the common values of hard work that built this country.

There is nothing wrong of being proud of one’s heritage, even if it is from a far-flung place. Celebrations and ethnic fairs can showcase the wide variety of backgrounds that underlie our population. However, if we allow a large group of people who came here illegally the same status that legal immigrants earn over years of effort, we set a terrible example and give rise to the reputation that our laws are made to be broken.

What an image to give to the rest of the world…. We can put a stop to this, but it will take work on behalf of every voter to demand that officials reflect the voters in the last election. Working Americans and “fly over country” spoke. Will they be ignored? I hope not, but if history teaches us anything it does teach us that nations that put extraordinary money into entitlements go broke. Look back as far as The Roman Empire. Too much government money given out to the masses brought down one of the most powerful entities of all time. It can and will happen again. My hope is that we are not the next example.

Focus on work. Focus on faith. It never hurts to know that there is an entity greater than self. Focus on fidelity, loyalty and love of country and of family. If we are no stronger than our weakest link, we are in trouble.

The federal system of government gives the ultimate power to the federal with the compliance of the member states. Sanctuary cities and states? Give me oxygen. If it weren’t so pitiful it would be laughable.

Yes, the national bird is an “ill eagle,” and that “play on words” says it all. We are in the midst of a government shut down forced by those on the left that value illegals more than American citizens. If you work hard and pay your taxes, do you want someone who does not work and is not an American to benefit from your labor? Well, that is happening every day coast to coast. Respect for law is shrinking and excuses abound for those who break our laws. This is your country. It’s time the elected are held to account for their votes. Think about it.

# 250 – “Cultural Change: Deadly”

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 250

February 15, 2018

“Cultural Change: Deadly”

It’s a given. I am a senior citizen. As such, on many occasions I have seen more of life than I needed to see.

Yesterday is a prime example. I remember Columbine. All of us do. I remember the Hoosier native, a teacher, who gave his life to protect his students. I remember it all.

Since that time, we have witnessed twenty-four more school shootings. How has this happened? It is a question many of us ask.

Well, turn back the clock — culturally. I am a child of the 1940s. Our parents’ generation fought and won World War II. Our grandparents endured World War I. The world they bequeathed to us gave my generation a stable start in life. Their sacrifice and hard work rubbed off on us. They knew the value of human life. They had seen too much of it destroyed. We learned respect for our elders, a strong work ethic, and the value of a good education, whether in the trades or via a college or university.

Our main entertainment was radio, and even today Radio Spirits, and similar companies, broadcast the old shows much to my delight. Movies featured violence, but it was quick and far less vivid than today. True, Edward G. Robinson was a gangster and his movies had guns involved; but there was a difference. The good won out over the bad. Bad was seen as bad.

And then there were the westerns, or “oaters.” Directors like legendary John Ford captivated America with his western movies. We watched Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Tom Mix, Allen “Rocky” Lane, Andy Devine, and Chill Wills. One handsome actor reminded me of our neighbor across the street, local surgeon Norm Richard. That actor? Swashbuckling Glenn Ford.

Good guys wore white hats. They valued liberty and stood for truth. They used their guns to defend the weak and enforce the law. The bad guys, attired in dark colors, earned their names: bad guys.

My memories of those days flash vividly. We watched the “shoot ‘em up” films, but none of us took them too seriously. But, then again, we were not bombarded with violence from every corner. Our games were Monopoly, card games, and checkers. A few of our brighter peers played chess.

Guns were a fact of life for rural kids. Townspeople kept guns at home. In fact, it was not unusual to see guns in the back windows of pickup trucks in high school parking lots. In the 1930s high schools had shooting clubs around the state. Students brought their rifles to school and kept them in their lockers until they went to the shooting range with an instructor.

Yes, our high school experience was far different from today, but a gentler one in many ways. The occasional fight might break out among a few crude teenagers, but those were very rare. Discipline was not questioned. It was reality.

When Principal Jim Sharp walked down the hall of our high school, he parted the students like Moses did the waters. A swish and a clunk in the hallway meant that a cantankerous student was held, feet off the floor, up against a locker. He had rules. He enforced them. None of us got angry and went home for a gun either. And plenty of our houses had guns. I know mine did.

I graduated in 1961 before the hippie era. Our generation saw no drugs. We only read about “opium dens,” and that was in world history. We didn’t see illegal drugs or anyone that might have frequented them. We took drugs (medicines) only when we were sick. To do otherwise was unknown.

Once the specter of drugs, love children, and open sexuality hit the streets, the game was all but over. The transformation of entertainment nailed the coffin of American teenage innocent shut with a bang — no gun pun intended. When our youth became obsessed with games lionizing death and crime, seeds were sown more widely than a thunderstorm dumping Canadian thistle on an Indiana cornfield — easily sown, a constant battle to eradicate.

The evolution of movies from wholesome to insulting only added to the problem. Thugs wreaking havoc and carnage on city streets replaced strong male role models in actors like Robert Young, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, and Joseph Cotton. The number of youngsters living in single-family homes began to skyrocket. None of us is better for that.

In the wake of Broward County Florida’s terrible events of Valentine’s Day, some will scream “gun control!” Well, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. A gun left alone in a room is harmless. In the hands of an evil person, a gun is a weapon of unimaginable damage. And so what do we do? Well, why not adopt the Israeli system?

Israel’s schools remain secure. Building security is high, and unidentified teachers carry concealed weapons. Despite the Palestinian rocket attacks on innocents that have gone on for decades, no school is Israel recorded a live shooting incident. True, Israel is a tiny country, and their culture is homogeneous; but their basic plan is solid.

Try to get into a courthouse or federal building in the United States. If you carry legally, your weapon will remain at the entrance under guard. You may be frisked or go through a metal detector. If we keep political and administrative offices safe, shouldn’t we do the same for our schools?

Just how much are our kids’ lives worth anyway? Are they worth a secure building with only limited entry? Are they worth anonymous conceal carry teachers? It’s only common sense, but — then again — that is nearly nonexistent today. Would that it were different….

I do not speak without experience. A 73-year-old grandmother with a lifetime permit to carry, I received my gun training at the FOP firing range by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department when I worked for then Prosecuting Attorney Jim Lisher in the early 1980s. Once in a great while mainstream news will air a story of a person carrying a gun who thwarts a robbery or worse or a mother who defends her home, but — sadly — the news usually concentrates on gun criminals, not citizens defending themselves.

The five million plus members of the NRA stand for personal protection guaranteed by the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment is sacrosanct to them, and to me. It should be to you, too.

The Florida school shooting will bring out slings and arrows from both sides of the gun control issue. However, we do need to remember that the once widespread system of mental health hospitals so common in the United States was dismantled decades ago. Moreover, child rearing became a sporting event for litigious parents who threatened lawsuit if a child was reprimanded.

Once a strong social triangle existed, and it forged an important relationship key to a child’s success. As you know the triangle is the strongest form in geometry. The best example is a pyramid. Think Egypt….

That once strong triangle consisted of the school and the parents for the child. It has morphed, much to society’s loss, to the parent and the child against the school. With the school leg gone, the triangle collapsed — and with it the once strong bond that held the whole relationship together.

However, we cannot ignore the violence to which our children have been exposed. I shudder to calculate the number of murders and violent scenes today’s elementary school children have seen. Now extrapolate those numbers they have seen by the time they reach high school. Constant exposure to violence desensitizes. Empathy and sympathy evaporate. Jaded attitudes reign. Reality falls by the wayside. Everything begins again after the lights go up in the theatre or the commercial ends the episode on TV.

And what of the responsibility legitimately shouldered by video game manufacturers and Hollywood? Oh, celebrities are right up there on their pedestals when it comes to telling us how to live; yet, their medium erodes the very foundation upon which this nation was founded.

Oh, dear. God is the first in line here.

Talk show hosts and anchors mock faith in God as a weakness or as if it is a dread disease. Far from it, faith anchors your life when all else around you collapses. Trace the school violence back to the time when we took God out of the schools.

Exposure breeds mimicry. Undoubtedly, superhero movies will remain popular, but they are pure fantasy. In contrast, gang movies and gratuitous violence offer absolutely no redeeming social value.

Without moral guidance and authority, anarchy looms. When you add the problem of edited textbooks and leftist instructors who paint America as the pariah of the world, the recipe is nothing short of disaster. We teeter on the edge of just such a disaster today.

Prayerfully remember the families of students and staff murdered on February 14th. Each of the murdered went to school yesterday morning expecting to go home. They did not. Each of you has a local school board. Make your concerns known. Insist on security. Every school, large or small, is at risk. Big cities are not alone in their vulnerability. Sad, but true….

Think about Israel. Israelis are determined to keep their freedom and they are prepared to defend it. They safeguard their children and tell them the truth about the world around them. We sugarcoat it here. While it does take away a part of innocence that should be inherent in growing up, informing children about dangers around them is critical.

Every technology has within it an element of danger. The Internet we view as a wonderful tool, the criminal sees as a fast method of communicating evil. For all its good points, it harbors evil within.

Leadership does not end in the home. It extends to the federal level, or one would hope…. I fear that we have become a nation without moral clarity and respect for law. Cities and states that refuse to obey the law are criminal entities and should be treated as such. This bent view of authority must be nipped in the bud, to quote Deputy Barney Fife. Press your elected officials to support federal law. Don’t just sit in the kitchen and complain about it to one another. Voters have impact. Make yours known.

How much are 17 lives worth? Locked doors? Full time security guards? Contrast these costs with school athletic budgets. Today, speaking to a group of Sheriffs from around the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this statement: “The right to remain safe is the number one right of every American and the responsibility of every one of you.” (Audience was made up of law enforcement officials.) He is right.

A lack of safety costs precious lives, lives to be forever unfulfilled, we must face a sobering fact. School safety is the seminal issue of our time. As a parent and grandparent, I want to see something done to assure that children are safe. Do you? All politics is local. Every locality has a school. Starting small is still a start.

Think about it.

248 – “Letter Grades”

Monday, January 29th, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 246 – December 13, 2017

“Letter Grades”

I attribute the huge hiatus in my columns over the past months to both necessity and choice. The necessity surfaced as the result of major shoulder surgery the last day of October. A sling and immobility of my left arm made typing a chore and physical therapy sessions interrupted my otherwise normal weekly schedules. Choice surfaced due to a prolonged frustration with the state of affairs at the national level. To avoid cracking and collapsing my soapbox, I simply held off on columns.

Now, I abandon that odd position and go for what I consider the federal jugular. To that end, I assign letter grades to those who undergird the Congress and the undergirding and unelected bureaucracy that, in essence, wields far more power than the ordinary American realizes.

Instead of pursuing every letter, I focus on the top and the bottom. The “A” section consists of three genres: ambivalence, alienation, and abrogation.

First, ambivalence…. I am worn out with those in leadership who go about the nation’s business with the cavalier attitude bordering on the inane. Truly important issues fall to the side while insignificant ones command undue, and largely unearned, positions. An example would be the odd juxtaposition of national security concerns and human failings.

I lay this one at the feet of establishment politicians more interested in their own power than the fate of the American people. The current international situation in Iran and North Korea should hold sway over personal shortcomings of people on both sides of the aisle. Yet, our news media target prurient stories and ignore the big picture. Take this past week for example. A disgusting sexual harassment discussion topped that of a failed terrorist attack in New York City. Now, using what is left of common sense, which one merits the most attention?

Next is alienation…. If there is one movement that describes the last decade or so, it is the constant drumbeat of those who seek to divide us from one another. As I listened to a caller on a major syndicated radio show this week, this particular specter of our societal condition really struck me as critical.
The caller, a young man (in his 40s), described himself as an American and only as an American. Black, he refused to use the hyphenated African-American. In his words, he was not from Africa, claimed no heritage from that region of the world, and attributed his success in life solely to America’s freedom of opportunity. He lamented the fact that far too many of his people voted year in and year out for those who claimed to work for them even though results were few and far between.

There are those who would have us dislike one another for a myriad of reasons, but the main one is race. Instead of celebrating the fact that, even in light of difficulties, Americans have the best chance of any people on earth to achieve a happy, fulfilled life, we see a determined effort to portray every social problem in the light of race — especially white versus black. How sad to see our nation squandering the chance to uplift all our people for a unending movement promoting hatred and distrust.

Others among us seek to divide us by gender. Again, sad….

Each of us knows a man or woman who falls short. For example, women not only have the right to vote in this country, but they also hold high positions in business and politics. It seems that whenever something goes awry, instead of self-examination, we see another chapter of the blame game. Nobody is perfect, but we cannot allow ourselves to be warped to the point that everything is viewed through the lens of gender.

So we come to abrogation…. Duty is job one, whether it applies to our personal lives or our jobs. When voters elect someone to a national office, those same voters have every right to expect their elected officials to put duty to country first. Oh, would that were the case. Not so in many cases.

I am not sure what kind of rarified air hovers within the beltway, but it fogs what should be clear minds to every one of us at risk. Far too often someone enters the Congress as with what is assumed an average level of wealth only to leave office a millionaire. That does not happen by accident.

When personal ambition and financial gain tops duty, the government is hobbled. We see this more and more. How do we end this? Not easily, I can say. Yet, we have a president today who sees the “swamp” for what it is and is determined to make changes. We can only hope that he has some measure of success in his efforts. Entrenched bureaucracy and ego-fueled politicians make for a toxic mix. This is not new. When someone threatens to put a lid on their financial “cookie jar,” the resultant backlash should be expected.

Old as the nation itself, these problems date back to the founding. However, our Founding Fathers never foresaw a professional political class. Instead, they expected citizens to run for office, serve, and then to home to assume their former careers. That, my friends, is rare today.

Abrogation of duty threatens our freedom, but you would never know that by listening to the talking heads in both the political arena and what passes for the majority of the “news” media today.

And now I come to bottom of the grade scale, the “F.” These three genres pose a truly existential threat to America. The proof of this is the fact that over the last fifty years, attacks have whittled away at each of them.

“F” number one: family. If one goes about the task of dismantling a society, there is no better place to begin than the family unit. Before integration, it was rare to see divorce or unwed mothers among black families. Contrast that with today. The high percentage of single mothers among our black population is scary. The ones hurt most by this are the children, and the lack of a father as the solid family male role model contributes mightily to the crime problem. This is not to dismiss those mothers who work very hard to keep their kids on “the straight and narrow” and away from gang evils that lurk about them. For far too many youngsters, a gang becomes their family.

Once shattered, the family unit portends a grim future for a nation.

“F” number two: faith. Once a nation founded on God turns its back on that God, the result is dim indeed. Removing prayer from school did nothing to improve the lives of our children. When I was in high school, a group called “High Y” began each day with a prayer over the PA system. It didn’t hurt one of us. In some cases, it was the only exposure some of our classmates had to religion. Love, sharing, and respect were hallmarks of those prayers. My, those personality traits are lethal to a good life, aren’t they?

Currently, there are those in the wider society who seek nothing less than labeling faith a weakness. Instead of seeing faith as the bulwark of a steady and virtuous life, these venomous people view it as a target for their anger. It is much easier to incite hatred than love. Love demands sacrifice and attention. Oh, goodness…. That is really too much to ask of us, isn’t it?

When we lose faith, we lose our moral compass. Sound familiar? Just what has commanded so much attention recently than human failing in the moral department? If each of us began to live a life according to The Ten Commandments, problems that imperil us would evaporate. Sadly, free will enters into the picture. Sadly, society wide — and not unexpectedly — greed tops need. Need I say more?

Foundation is the third “F,” and it is two-fold. First, I cite the written foundation most critical to our republic, our U.S. Constitution. Written by men of faith, who recognized themselves as sinners before God, this succinct document spanning two hundred forty-one years is priceless in terms of what it guarantees each American and how it sets limits on the three branches of government. Burdensome British rule compelled the Founding Fathers to put into writing the freedoms we take for granted each day.

I feel sure that no man involved in crafting the Constitution would believe today’s practice of judges legislating “from the bench.” The Founders’ firm belief in the separation of powers would never approve anything close to it. It threatens the foundation itself. We see it consistently. If lawmakers fall short of a faction’s wishes, then a sympathetic judge simply steps in to “correct” the situation. This is judicial activism, and it is very dangerous.

Part two of what I deem foundation is our shared history. History stands forth as a series of warning signs. Ignored, history repeats itself. History is the ultimate teacher. If we do not learn from history, we are at great peril. We cannot change history by removing statues from our public places, changing names of entities to be more in line with political correctness, or editing our textbooks to a bias that should scare anyone with a decent background in both American and world history.

If you doubt me, pick up a current textbook and read it. What is within the pages is shocking. The missing history will make you shudder. Ask many young people even the most basic question about history and a blank stare serves as your answer. When we do not know our history, we are at great risk. That should concern all of us. We need to hold textbook editors accountable for their omissions. It is not surprising that many of the younger generation have no respect for flag and country. With no real background in history, it is easy to sell students a bill of goods in place of facts. My, that’s convenient for those who want to paint America as imperialist and evil. America has never won a war and taken over a country. We have defended countries such as Germany and Japan, but we have never taken their territory. So, charges of imperialism are fallacious.

Ambivalence, alienation and, abrogration (of duty) bode ill for us. Alone, you cannot fix all that ails us as a nation. But there are things you can do.

Extol family life and marriage as priceless. Praise parenthood as the finest of human efforts. Live your faith and serve as a role model for others. Find out what passes for history in your district’s schools. Be an informed voter. Base your vote on facts not feelings.

As a teacher with a Master’s Degree in History, I bypass A and go for we all grew up recognizing as the lowest letter grade. I go for F.

We recognize F as academic failure. Yet these three Fs function as a trio of what should be paramount for every American: family, faith, and foundation.

Think about it.

#246 – “Dawn’s early light…”

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

#247 – “Dawn’s early light…”

December 31, 2017

With each New Year’s Eve celebration comes a plethora of resolutions amid a waft of memories. Someone, somewhere, must have initiated this custom. Among the more popular aims are losing weight, doing better at a relationship, and coming to terms with what life really has to offer.

Reality is a hard taskmaster. Few of us can say that acceptance is automatic, or pleasant for that matter. If I could put a priceless stamp on any one human attribute it would be aging gracefully.

As you pass into 2018, vow to be very thankful for another year. Oh, it might not be the best year of your life, but it is a gift nonetheless.

As the days grow to weeks and months, most of us merely go about our business in a routine manner. But, life itself is anything but routine. Just consider what a miracle it is that you breathe. Life is its own miracle.

As the ball drops in Times Square tonight, millions of people will look on with zest. Among them, many will celebrate more than a traditional party in the heart of New York City.

Consider the pursuits that might come to mind among the celebrants. With little fanfare but considerable thought, many will resolve to achieve a personal goal. Perhaps it is a chance to do better, to earn more, to come to terms with a burdensome problem or to just be kind.

At dawn’s early light on Monday, January 1, 2018, consider the 364 days that remain. Think beyond the countdown.

Beyond all the bright lights, the confetti, the glasses raised in toasts, and the familiar singing of “Auld Lang Syne” we reflect on our unique opportunity to make it a better year. Whether each change to come is a result of individual endeavor or of a joint effort, I hope for positive achievements. May this be so…..

245 – “Heads to tails”

Friday, September 15th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

#245

September 15, 2017

“Heads to tails”

The world is awash with violence today. Perhaps it’s time for a bit of levity aimed at something endemic to all our households across the nation. Agree? Then read along….

If you become aggravated (or insulted) by today’s commercials, you join with throngs of others who feel the same way. It’s been a long time since the images of Bufferin and “Brand X” appeared on television screens.

Ah, yes. Brand X. Well, that could apply quite nicely to some of the ads we are seeing today. I use the term “seeing,” because I am sure that we are not the only household to MUTE commercial sound.

Then there was the Alka Seltzer ad with the jaunty little character that danced and sang to encourage us to assuage our indigestion using his product. Cartoon characters and animals make great ambassadors for commercial advertising and the practice holds true today. I cite the Geico gecko. It’s amazing how a tiny lizard impacts a major corporation’s sales.

Early on, commercials were geared toward homemaking, since most women stayed home and reared their children. Over time, the workplace changed profoundly as more and more women began to work and assume full-time careers outside the home. Note the change in advertising. TV dinners came to the fore. As I look back, I wonder if that product hinted at the demise of the family dinner table and began to erode the center of family life.

There is, of course, no way to know this. Because of my vintage, personal opinion for me merely heralds an earlier view of mother at home that has diminished markedly over the last thirty years.

Moving along in time, automobile companies hit the airwaves in an earnest effort to lure customers into dealerships across the country. The introduction of the “station wagon” in the 1950s set the stage for Chrysler’s mini-van decades later. Amid those years was the full size van, with some models customized to luxury travel vehicles. Oh, they fell short of motorhomes, but hinted at the future of the smaller RVs we see on the roads today. As more and more people moved to the suburbs, lawn care products hit the scene. Lawn mowers, fertilizers and all manner of specialty hand tools marketed on television boosted sales of many American companies.

As the old Bufferin ads became dim memories, pharmaceutical companies began to advertise their wares. At first the ads were intriguing and informative. Most folks were accustomed to their family doctor packaging pills and cough syrup right in the office. Drug stores were for specialty medications, and some featured soda fountains and ice cream counters that inspire smiles from those of us lucky enough to have sat on a high stool and enjoyed a cool treat on a hot day!

I ignore the thirty second sales pitches for those products that save you time and effort in cleaning and cooking — let alone that wonderful concoction that can glue together a boat and skim across the water in complete safety.
If I concentrated on those ads, the column would be too long to read.

So, I focus on the carefully scripted ads for a wide variety of prescription drugs. Launched with flair and choreographed as well as any movie, these commercials have an element of education, to be sure. However, the cost of all this is passed on to the consumer. Few people ever consider that.

Considering the side effects given as these commercials end, it’s surprising that you would want to take any of them. One aside, however, is the value of the warnings stated within the ads. For example, it was only with this information in hand that I was able to understand what had happened to our puppy earlier this year. He had been given medication meant for older dogs and he was very sick.

The veterinary practice made good on all my expense, but the puppy could have been seriously harmed had I not heard the age range of the medication. It did not stop with the canine member of the family either.

Not too much before the incident with the dog, I had been given samples of a drug after a bout with a digestive problem. With my medical records in hand, clearly stating that I had had my gall bladder removed two years prior to the appointment, the prescriber sent me home with a medicine not meant for a patient lacking a gall bladder. Sadly, I did not view the commercial until much later. I had taken it for over a month and the sole reason I did not fill prescription was cost — over $1100 per month! That’s another axe to grind. Do medical professionals who write these prescriptions have any idea of the cost? I wonder. Even with insurance, many are not covered.

Well, we began with headache medications, yet today’s commercials boast a distinctively different flair. What began with the head clearly did not end there. No, indeed….

You must live under a rock if you haven’t taken note of the plethora of ads featuring the bathroom products. From the home test for colon cancer to the bears pushing using less tissue, we are immersed (poor term) in toilet paper. And then, of all things, here comes the ad for VI-Poo. Egad. Not only are we peppered with the “politically correct” tack on life itself, now we are urged (another bad term) to be “toiletry correct.”

Well, it only goes to show that there are highs and lows in advertising. By design, we remain the targeted audience for all of it. Ever wonder what could be around the corner? Leave it to the ad men to give us another chapter.

We’ve come a long way. In essence — heads to tails.